HEAVING out at the mystic hour of zero zero zero one to shift berth one morning, I drew over my head my regulation jersey, vintage of 1918, foregoing white shirt, collar and tie. Shoes and socks, trousers, sweater and blouse: a simple, convenient, and practical uniform for the wee small hours.
Gazing down from the bridge upon the shivering hearties on the fo’c’s’le, all clothed in various faded shades of thin cotton dungarees, contrary to the King’s regulations, my thoughts carried me back to a smart appearing group of foreign sailors which I had recently observed aboard a merchantman, garbed in uniform pull-over Navy blue sweaters with the name of their ship in script stitched in red cotton across the chest. I then recalled the recent advertisements of foreign ship operators in many of our leading magazines in which groups of A.B.’s were shown in similar attire under captions directing attention to the smartness and efficiency of their personnel. The sweaters and names did the trick. And the thought came to me, if they wear them, the men must like them, they must be practical or they wouldn’t have them, and why, then, don’t we, instead of continuously being on the warpath against this fine garment, adopt it as Uniform Jig for Jersey?
In the first place the jersey is a part of the official bag, but it cannot be worn unless it is covered by a jumper. Woe be to the young bluejacket, whose upper half is covered outboard with only a jersey, who runs afoul of the O.O.D., the J.O.O.W., the Jimmy legs, the mate-of-the-deck, or any other minion of law and order.
And then, when those all too frequent calls are piped, for instance, “All the deck force hoist in the motor boat, furl the awnings, man the lines, break out stores, dump the garbage, man the guns, or receive the Skipjack's lines,” it would be just as simple to slip on a pair of shoes over the tired dogs, heave up the trousers, and dive into a sweater as it is to pull on or heave short some out-of-uniform turnout.
Then again, provided the weather is cold and damp enough, which it usually is, the jersey is warm and comfortable. And if it is the authorized raiment, there is no necessity, as there generally is now, to squeeze into a glove-fitting undress jumper, which the good old Navy chow and lots of hard work have made fit skin tight.
Furthermore, as the foreign merchantmen evidently have discovered, the jersey is smart, you see them on Bond Street, and hence it is conducive to efficiency.
And sweaters are popular; if they weren’t, there would be no uniform problem in keeping them submerged, they wouldn’t be the most conspicuous article of clothing on every college campus, in fact you wouldn’t see so many “N’s” and stars and numerals denoting manliness and athletic prowess. What sailorman wouldn’t be proud to have Tuscarora or Cuttlefish scripted across his navy blue chest?
As an example of the incongruity concerning jerseys and sweaters as articles of uniform, the athletic units of men-of-war frequently, to the consternation of those enforcing the books of Rocks and Shoals, present sweaters (generally non-reg) to the winning race-boat crews, the footballers, the baseballers, and what not. And then there is a merry-go-round. According to the said Rocks and Shoals the proud athletes are not allowed to have civilian or non-regulation clothes in their possession nor are they allowed to adorn their man-of-war’s men’s bodies with these gifts donated in the name of their proud ship, except when in athletic costume. So the only thing the fortunate or unfortunate confused athletic hero can do is to give the sweater away, to have it in his possession surreptitiously, or to take it ashore to wear with civilian clothes or with his uniform, provided he is at a goodly number of nautical miles from the uniform sticklers. And everyone in authority worth his salt is a stickler for uniform, and rightly so.
The problem is a devilish one, always has been, and always will be, but it does seem to me that along with Dress Blue Affirmative and Undress Blue Baker, a uniform of jersey, blue trousers, white hat, black shoes, might be designated and given a tryout for limited occasions.
Therefore the sea is one of those things which is not an article of merchandise, and which cannot become private property. Hence it follows, to speak strictly, that no part of the sea can be considered as the territory of any people whatsoever. Placentinus seems to have recognized this when he said: “The sea is a thing so clearly common to all, that it cannot be the property of any one save God alone.” Johannes Faber also asserts that the sea has been left sui juris, and remains in the primitive condition where all things were common. If it were otherwise there would be no difference between the things which are “common to all,” and those which are strictly termed “public”) no difference, that is, between the sea and a river. A nation can take possession of a river, as it is inclosed within their boundaries, with the sea, they cannot do so.—Grotius, The Freedom of the Seas.